The 4 Letter Word We Never Use In HR

I’m not sure about your HR experience but in my HR experience I’ve used every 4 letter word known to man – except one.  That word is:


This came to mind recently when I was speaking to a really close HR friend of mine who happens to work at a really great company.  The kind of company who wins all of those HR and Recruiting awards and accolades for doing ‘great’ HR work.  For being the industry leaders in HR and Talent.  For being the company ‘we’ should all follow and emulate.  My friend is funny, I like hanging out with funny people, and she told me the only reason they’ve won any of those awards is luck!  Not skill, not hard work, not better HR/Recruiting talent – it is luck.  Granted, their team had to do some work after the luck to take advantage of timing – but the Luck is the reason they got to ‘greatness’.

She says that they were your average to below average company – nothing special – when a perfect storm of timing hit them.  They had a product that became popular and they went virtually overnight from being a nobody to a somebody.  “We were the same company, but now everyone wanted to know how and what we were doing in HR and Recruiting!  Internally, we laugh about it – we weren’t doing anything new or different – but being asked to accept awards and come speak.  To hear professionals all of sudden think your something special is a pretty cool feeling!  Everyone should experience it, but it makes me sad because I know HR pros who are hell of lot more talented than I working at crappy companies doing much more than we are in HR to turn their companies around – and they’ll never get awards and no one wants to hear them speak – and quite frankly they do HR better than we do!  We got lucky…”

In HR, and probably most parts of our organization, we never want to give Luck credit for anything.  It diminishes us as professionals, and diminishes the profession.  It can’t be LUCK that is making us ‘better’ it’s our skill!   We didn’t get lucky by hiring that designer who after 5 years just had inspiration and got our company noticed, our selection process picked that person. We didn’t get lucky by winning that harassment lawsuit, it was our training.  Luck is a very bad work to use in the corporate world!  Can you imagine going into your CEO when she asks “So, how did you guys lower our turnover by 25% in the past 12 months?”, and you go “Luck”!  But how many of ‘us’ had these conversations in the past few years when we saw our turnover plummet because of the recession, and our employees having no other job choices – go into our executives and talk about our ‘processes’, our ‘engagement programs’, our ‘programs to reduce turnover’ – when in reality you could have done nothing and turnover was going to plummet.  Luck, was on our side.

I like to give Luck credit.  I’ve been very lucky in my career – and I’m always willing to give it credit.  I think luck has more to do with success than people want to give it credit for.  Sure, once luck comes your way, you better have the skill and motivation to take advantage of your situation – but luck is behind so many great pros.  I still believe in hard work and skill will take you far – but hard work, skill and luck – will take you farther!   That word Luck is real tricky.

12 thoughts on “The 4 Letter Word We Never Use In HR

  1. “Luck is an offensive, abhorrent concept. The idea that there is a force in the universe tilting events in your favour or against it is ridiculous. Idiots rely on luck.” – Sherlock Holmes

    • Gabriel,

      You realize Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, right!? But I do like the quote regardless if it’s real or literature. 🙂


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